Thursday, October 29, 2015

Thoughts on US Presidential Race for 2016

Growing up, I've always been disinterested in politics and the selection process of American presidents. Maybe it was a byproduct of not being able to vote until the last election (2012). Or a general apathy to a world that I did not understand well and to which I had even lesser influence. Today when I'm asked about my political beliefs, my default answer is always between "I don't really follow it to have an opinion" to "I'd say I'm a moderate who leans Republican only on fiscal policy". This all being said, I've been following up this election cycle with marginally more interest and consequently have formed an opinion of my own.

I feel that despite all the posturing and talk/debates from all candidates, the nominees for each party at this point are clear: Hilary Clinton for the Democrats, and Marc Rubio for the Republicans. This may change in case of an unexpected turn of events but should not and it makes sense.

For the Democrats, Hilary, for all her faults and damaged reputation, remains the household name and the most viable of the 3 major candidates. Bernie Sanders is too extreme in his views and Martin O'Malley is either too discrete or too much of a bozo (e.g. a talking head). This is not to say that she'll win the general election at all - in fact, I'd be willing to bet that she'll lose. As I'll get to in a bit, the public has shown an anti-establishment preference in its favoring of Donald Trump and Ben Carson on the Republican side; this runs directly counter to what Hilary stands for, which is a return of the Clinton name and its former policies. Hilary is simply the best candidate from the Democratic contenders, period.

For the Republicans, Rubio makes sense for his mixture of inexperience, age, and potential to bring in the highly-touted Hispanic vote. I understand that Donald Trump and Ben Carson are currently the front-runners but the American people are not stupid to vote for a candidate devoid of any political experience. As much as I dislike politics, it's like a game that you cannot refuse to play as a President - lest the end result be Obama's current situation of a deadlock with a legislative arm (e.g. Congress) refusing to support his ideas and initiatives. Political experience is a major plus, though arguably too much experience is a minus; likewise idealism and fresh spirit are great to have, but too much freshness leads and possibility of ill-advised undertakings. Therefore Trump and Carson would be disasters if they ultimately win the nomination, and I trust that the public recognizes this and will vote accordingly.

At the other end of the spectrum, the other candidates are likewise inexperience (Carly Fiorina), damaging reputation (Chris Christie, Jeb Bush), or general lack of credibility (Rand Paul, Ted Cruz). I know there are others in the field but let's be honest, they should've dropped out by now. To summarize quickly my thoughts on these:
- Carl Fiorina's experience is staked in her tenure as CEO of HP, which was in fact a disaster for the company. She presided a period of accelerated decline for HP and consequently, this is in fact negative experience.
- Chris Christie's reputation for frankness is marred by his questionable role in "bridgegate" and his image in general. Again let's be honest, we vote for candidates who look presidential and this man needs to seriously lose some weight to look the type. The irony is that he may in fact be representative of American obesity but that's something neither the American public nor the rest of the world wants to see.
- Jeb Bush is a Bush and has shown little in terms of initiative. Unfortunately for him, he's running in a crowded field and on a party base tired of establishment players.
- Rand Paul is too much of a flipflopper and this will be exposed if he ends up with the nomination. This is unfortunate as I liked his father (Ron Paul) a lot but whereas dad was consistent, the apple seems to have fallen far from the tree. I like his stance against NSA and government spying on its citizens but in general too wishy-washy as a candidate.
- Ted Cruz is similar to Martin O'Malley and seems to be a bozo. I question his stance against net-neutrality, which hints at some bedroom behavior with the major corporations.